Water probe bias fear
by SUE NEALES taken from http://www.themercury.com.au/article/20 ... -news.html
February 25, 2010 06:50am
CRITICISM is mounting that the official inquiry to investigate claims of toxins in East Coast drinking water supplies is not sufficiently independent or rigorous.
. There is also concern the probe, established on the recommendation of Tasmania's public health director Roscoe Taylor on Tuesday, will not inquire into the broader linked problem of contaminated water in dozens of river catchments around the state where tree plantations proliferate.
Marine ecologist Marcus Scammell, who helped blow the whistle with new data suggesting toxins from tree plantations in drinking water could be harming St Helens residents, said yesterday he did not trust the Government.
"Do I trust your Government and its servants with my data [and Dr Alison Bleaney's]," Dr Scammell wrote on a blog on the Tasmanian Times website.
"No I do not! Since 2005 we have told the Tasmanian Government the water was a problem backed by toxicity testing from an accredited laboratory [but they did not respond]. That is what I'm worried about [again]; that our data, which we've gone to great trouble to collect, will not be viewed as impartial or even useful."
Dr Scammell and St Helens GP Alison Bleaney are both disappointed that the scientific investigation of the seven independent studies of water contamination and toxins they have helped collect from the George River have been entrusted to an inquiry overseen by Tasmania's Environmental Protection Authority,
They argue that the EPA, an arm of the Environment Department, has failed previously to investigate further its own studies showing poisonous toxins to be present in St Helens drinking water supplies in 2005.
With that background, Dr Bleaney and Dr Scammell query why EPA chairman John Ramsay has now been entrusted with overseeing the review and study of their critical toxins data by eminent Australian and overseas scientists to verify its findings.
Dr Bleaney believes the health of St Helens residents is being adversely affected by dangerously high levels of toxins found in the leaves of plantation eucalypt trees in the town's drinking water.
But she says she is no scaremonger, with her journey as a whistleblower beginning with her puzzlement at the unusually high levels of cancers and neurological diseases she began to see among her St Helens patients.
The Government insists there are no statistically unusual incidents or clusters of disease in St Helens and that the water is safe to drink.
Ongoing concerns about the adverse quality of our water supply due to toxic chemical usage have been deliberately ignored due to the systemic failure within all tiers of government to regulate the forest industry in our State. The investigation must therefore be open and transparent and carried out independent of this government which has consistently failed to recognise its duty to care for the community. An immediate moratorium must also be imposed upon the further planting of e. nitens monoculture plantations due to claims that the toxicity has been attributed to genetically improved and/or modified e.nitens which potentially breach Tasmania's GMO free status. These claims must also be included within the remit for the investigation.
This enquiry will be a total whitewash full of lies, secrecy and obfuscation....mark my words. What Govt in its right mind would declare Gumtrees as a National Toxic hazard. Why all those bureaucrats would have a terminal case of apoplexy......declaring "but their NATIVE!!! this can't be true! What about our sick and dying populations of koalas....they will starve to death if we remove all the gumtrees".